This video is a bit of an experiment. Shortly after beginning the US road trip, I got the idea to do it and starting trying to capture the trip from a single perspective. You'll just have to watch it to see what I mean.
I absolutely fell in love with creating videos during our trip and I'm amazed by what is possible. I couldn't get over how easy it was to edit the videos (using software that came with my computer) and share them on our web site. After a day on the road I could have a 3 minute video edited and posted within a couple of hours. This just wasn't possible for the average person a couple of years ago.
If you're considering a trip like ours, consider using video as a way to capture the experience and put it on the web. Not only will it be fun, but your friends and family will feel even more connected to you and your experience. Like my brother said "it's so great to be able to hear your voice."
Just last night I learned that we missed out on a bit of American pop culture that would have been interesting for the roadtrip. We never saw the movie "Cars" which, apparently, is based on the story of I-40 killing Route 66. This was our experience too. Here are photos...
We used a book called Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen, which pointed us to towns, sights, cafes and oddities along the way. I got into the greasy spoon cafes along the way.
This is the famous onion burger at Johnnie's Grill in El Reno, Oklahoma.
Joe and Aggies in Holbrook, AZ.
Dinosaurs, dinosaurs everywhere. Holbrook, AZ.
19 cents per gallon.
We drove, a LOT. Actually, I rode a lot and Sachi drove a lot. There is something about the little gas stations that seems so American. It's like a little microcosm of the local population.
Just for the record, it took Sachi a couple of minutes to remember which exit we take off of I-5 to go home. It has been a while.
I owe Sachi big ups (and some slack) for driving all the way across the country - 4600+ miles. I did not drive once the whole time. She did an awesome job and now we're even-steven for my share of foreign driving.
Seattle in 21 miles, says the sign.
For the last few days, moments of silence between us have often been broken by one of us blurting out something that excites us about home - usually in the Homer Simpson style of "mmmnn doooonut". Here are a few... (please feel free to insert your own styles or sound effects).
Packages sent from abroad
Washer and Dryer
Mio Posto (neighborhood cafe)
Aside from these things there are a lot of people that have been on our minds a lot too, especially kids. We can't wait to see Griffin, Calder, Isabella, Michael, Trevor and Charlie (and their parents too, of course).
4 hours to go...and we just crossed the 45 parallel, a sign says.
I always think it's funny that a horse has two speeds - one going away from the barn and one going toward the barn. Going toward the barn is a bit more efficient. It hardly requires a giddyup.
Cruising up US-1 through Big Sur, we've made our big turn toward the barn and once we hit Santa Cruz, we'll get on I-5 toward Seattle. The last miles of the trip are peeling away before our very eyes. Tonight, we hope to end up north of Sacramento, one day striking distance from Seattle (and our last night in a hotel room).
In an inspired display of team spirit, Sachi just rallied the troops with a chant for our dog, whom we have missed more than anything or anyone. Amos! Amos! Amos! We're almost these buddy!
Man, talk about serendipity. I first heard about Ask A Ninja from Robert Scales who runs Rain City Studios, the company who designed the Ninja web site (and our site too) . He told me about it when we met in Thailand, and I quicky became a fan from abroad. Ask a Ninja has since become super-popular, and rightfully so in my opinion. The videos of a white guy in a Ninja suit answering reader questions makes me laugh every time.
I was so interested, in fact, that I did a bit of research about the guys behind it. I soon discovered that one guy of the two-man team, Douglas Sarine, is the very same Doug Sarine that was one of my best friends in college. The guy who lived beside me my freshman year is producing Ask A Ninja. Crazy.
So of course I emailed Robert who emailed Douglas and the reconnection began. Today we spent a few hours with Doug on a personal tour of Hollywood, including the taco restaurant where he once broke up with a girlfriend. Doug is still the hilarious, antsy, talented and incredibly good person that I remember from college. It was so great to reconnect, especially while he is in the midst of trying to disrupt the Hollywood status quo. Two guys and a video camera can do so much these days.
Oh, and this is not to mention the experience we had with Doug's brother Bill, who is an operations manager at Disney Pictures. Bill gave us a personal tour of the Disney sound stages, including the set of Pirates of the Caribbean III. We got to walk right through a scene from the movie that takes place at "Pirate's Cove" in an upside down ship hull. It felt like we had an exclusive look behind the movie making curtain at Disney. A true highlight.
We owe the Sarine brothers a huge thanks for a Hollywood experience we'll never forget.
We've heard interesting responses when I tell people that I'm excited about my first visit to Los Angeles. Among them: "Eh, its not that great", "don't bother", and simply "why?"
While LA has problems, I think residents and former residents just like to pick on the city in a self depricating sort of fashion. I am excited to have the LA experience, freeways and all. Even Sachi thinks that is a little weird.
I'm not interested in LA because of the celebrities, movie studios, the Sunset Strip or the Mann's Chinese Theater. I want to see those things, but what draws me to LA is the fame (or infamy) of the city itself. On a worldwide scale, Los Angeles is very well known and to many foreigners we met, one of the most coveted destinations in the US. We were both surprised to hear this as Americans would likely suggest alternatives to LA for a visit. Like me, they are interested in LA because it's famous more than beautiful, interesting or atmospheric. It is famously American.
I've run into this feeling many times on the trip - I want to see a city, a building, a sculpture not because I value it, or can even appreciate it, but because it is so famous. An example is Michaelangelo's "David", which is an amazing work of art, but one whose world wide fame supercedes its workmanship in my eyes. If you strip away all the fame, the experience of seeing the David is less exciting. In this way, fame is not a factor of quality, but quantity. I want to experience it because I've heard about it so many times.
And so it is for LA and me. The fame of the place itself, its problems, its beauty, its freeways, materialism and culture - it's interesting to me not because of its quality, but how much a part of the American experience it represents. Good or bad, LA is an experience I want to have.
Did you know that Hawaiians are huge fans of Las Vegas? At Main Street Station in downtown Vegas they estimate that about 80% of the people on the gambling floor are from Hawaii. I suppose that when you are surrounded by water, the desert looks attractive.
This being so, you can understand my experience being married to a Hawaiian. Las Vegas is a very familiar place to her, and now to me. We both really enjoy gambling, though we are decidedly low stakes sort of players. We play blackjack, 3 card poker, pai gow poker and roulette. I think we both just love to take risks and gambling is a fun way for us to feel the excitement of leaving a few dollars to chance and lady luck. For us, gambling is a fun and engaging experience.
We Americans should be so lucky. After this year, I will never take for granted the presence of a disposable income. In places like Macau, off the coast of China, gambling takes on a completely different meaning. The casino experience is exactly the same, the drinks are still free and games have the same rules. However, the gamblers are very different. They don't drink, they don't party. They don't hoot and hollar. In Macau, gambling is about one thing: making money. As serious as a business transaction, the folks I saw had no time for smiles or fun. Of course, this was in stark contrast to me, who morphed, quite regrettably, into a loud American as the night went on. Sachi described me as a "spectacle" to the business like people around me. But it was OK, I had a great time and no one got hurt. What the experience did help me appreciate was that I can gamble a few dollars and still be able to feed myself and have a place to live. It's fun to me because it can be and for that I am very lucky, no matter what cards the dealer holds.